The Wolfpacker

July-August 2020 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 45 of 51

46 ■ THE WOLFPACKER SAFETIES Seeking Depth BY MATT CARTER A sk new defensive coordinator Tony Gibson what his top concern for the defense is going into the 2020 season, and his answer will be the depth at safety. In fact, Gibson called it, "the one concern I have on our defense." "The first few guys … Jakeen [Harris], Tanner [In- gle], Khalid [Martin], those guys have played, but behind them we don't have anybody that has played," the coach added. Further complicating the depth was the decision of fifth- year senior Isaiah Stallings to depart as a graduate transfer during the summer. That leaves just one remaining scholar- ship safety on the roster, early enrollee freshman Nehki Mer- edith, beyond the top three. "We can always move a corner if we need to," Gibson noted. Ingle is the leader of the safety corps. He started seven games in 2018 as a true freshman nickel, and then all 11 con- tests that he played while lining up at free safety last fall. His 68 tackles were second most on the team, and he added five hits for loss, four passes broken up and one forced fumble. The competition at strong safety could be a battle between Harris, a sophomore, and Martin, a redshirt freshman. Harris played in 11 games as a rookie and made 31 tackles while breaking up one pass. Martin technically redshirted because he played four games, the maximum allowed to preserve that, but those appearances included a start in the season finale against UNC. The former four-star recruit according to 247Sports finished last year with eight tackles. SPOTLIGHT PLAYER JUNIOR TANNER INGLE Had Ingle played a full 12-game schedule (he missed the season finale against UNC), he likely would have led the team in tackles in 2019, and his four passes broken up tied for second most on the team. While Ingle does not have classic size for a safety (5-10, 188 pounds), the one-time Tennessee commit from Orlando, Fla., makes up for that with his combination of physicality, athleticism and football IQ. Prior to his senior year at Dr. Phillips High, Ingle registered a rating of 105.06 at a The Opening regional in his hometown. Anything above 100.0 on the formula that measures speed, agility, strength and leaping is considered elite. PROJECTED DEPTH CHART STARTERS No. Name Year Ht. Wt. Hometown 6 Jakeen Harris So. 5-11 189 Savannah, Ga. 10 Tanner Ingle Jr. 5-10 188 Orlando, Fla. RESERVES 21 Khalid Martin R-Fr. 6-0 200 Tobaccoville, N.C. 16 Nehki Meredith Fr. 5-9 162 Virginia Beach, Va. WAITING IN THE WINGS 37 Logan Ray* Fr. 5-11 189 Pilot Mountain, N.C. * Walk-on ■ PRESEASON ANALYSIS ★★★★ Among country's best; ★★★ Among ACC's best; ★★ Solid or has potential; ★ Too unproven STARTERS ★½ Junior Tanner Ingle has established himself as a solid starting safety option. Long praised for his high football IQ and athleticism, Ingle will lead the unit this fall. The question marks come at strong safety, where it will be a battle between sophomore Ja - keen Harris and redshirt freshman Khalid Martin. DEPTH ★ Early enrollee Nehki Meredith may have to grow up in a hurry — entering preseason camp he appears to be the last scholarship safety option available beyond the first three. The only other safety on the roster is walk-on Logan Ray, who just arrived in the spring. Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson called depth at the position his top concern. The Pack cannot afford any injuries here. EXPERIENCE ★★ Ingle has 18 starts to his credit already, and both Harris and Martin gained valuable experience during their college debuts last fall. So the posi- tion is not devoid of experience, but there is none after those three. OVERALL ★½ There is potential in the top three players — Ingle, Harris and Martin. Ingle has already shown what he is capable of doing, but Harris and Martin still have more to prove. Throw in the depth concerns and this is one position to watch closely in the fall. BY THE NUMBERS 4 Scholarship safeties on the roster entering pre- season camp. 30 Years coaching in college by Joe DeForest, who was hired as the safeties coach this off- season after spending the past two years at Southern Cal. DeForest's career began as a graduate assistant and running backs coach at Rice in 1990. He also spent seven seasons at Duke from 1994-2000. 237 Snaps taken last year by sophomore Jakeen Harris (171) and redshirt fresh- man Khalid Martin (66), the only experienced safeties beyond returning starter Tanner Ingle. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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